Campus Groupthink: The Guide To Fitting In

So you’ve taken you’re A-levels and you’ve made your offers to study your favourite courses at university. Well done. Soon all the high-street stores will be targeting you for what you’ll need for going to university: new laptops, crockery, pens, paper, books, booze, recipe books for cooking on your own for the first time and enough contraceptives to change the demographics of a small country.

You might be expecting to start independently thinking for the first time as well, but campus isn’t what it used to be. Put a foot wrong, vocalise a stray thought, break an orthodoxy, and you could find yourself cast out before you can say “down it fresher”. And nobody wants that, do they? As the current (tragic) joke goes: “What’s the opposite of diversity? A university.”

So to keep you from being on the receiving end of informal ostracism for straying too far away from the fashionable campus opinions du jour (and for “fashionable”, read: “you will think this or you are basically immoral”) we’ve put together this handy guide to save you any first-year faux pas. Peruse away, and go to university safe in the knowledge that you’ll be able to hold your own when you find yourself in a safe space drinking alcohol-free beer and doing your best not to talk over marginalised voices.

Free Speech

You don’t like this. You think it’s gone too far and should be mocked and derided. Begin this by referring to it as “Freeze Peach” online and watch the Facebook “likes” rise. You came to university to have your opinions and prejudices confirmed, not challenged. If you can make it out of your degree with the exact same worldview you began it with, then your university probably has the right “Freeze Peach” policy.

Economics

This is a tricky one which involves learning a certain group of phrases. Before you go up for freshers’ week practice saying in front of the mirror: “we are oppressed by the neoliberal, capitalist, laissez-faire, Zionist, classist, neo-colonialist, neo-imperialist, metropolitan, hegemonic heteropatriarchy”. I know it’s a mouthful but if you can master that you’ll get everyone nodding thoughtfully in the student union bar. While you’re at it, make sure you know that anyone who believes in a liberal economic policy is a selfish, individualistic, bastard who hates the poor. There can be no other reason for believing in lower taxes.

Zionism

Zionists are literally evil incarnate (and when you say ‘zionists’ you definitely aren’t using it to perpetuate any kind of anti-Semitic slurs. Definitely not. Not at all). While you won’t say it outright, make sure your contemporaries are aware that you think there’s something fishy about the way the Zionists are connected somehow with the price of gold, the global media, the US Presidency, the global banking system, and the money markets. Just imply it though, with liberal use of the name “Rothschild”, accompanied with a raised eyebrow.

The EU

This is the amazing maternal institution which has bestowed upon an entire continent (and your country too) peace, prosperity (ignore those pesky Greeks for a moment. You used to have solidarity with them but around the time of the referendum you conveniently forgot about them), and human rights. Remember: human rights never existed before the EU.

You think that it’s fine – that it’s an antidemocratic institution which consistently ignores the will of the people because at least it keeps a check on the bloody Tories, right? You also think that all eurosceptics are basically racists and that platforming them would be a sin. You think that cheap phone calls and your right to go to France slightly more easily is a fine price to pay for the erosion of ancient constitutional freedoms and democracy.

Global Politics

You’ve heard about the 60s once, and you pretend to like Jimi Hendrix and the summer of love, man, so a deep insight to any campus conversation will be along the lines of “you know, brother, I think if we all just realised that we’re all just, like, y’know, humans, and if we all just loved each other a bit more, man, then the world would be a better place, sister”.

You think that we should all just get along a bit more and, to that end, you’ll be joining all the unilateralist CND marches and you think it’s a disgusting hypocrisy that liberal, stable, democratic countries should be armed while preventing the access to nuclear weapons of repressive theocracies who have declared their intent to use those weapons to wipe out their neighbours. Pointing out the intent of those countries would be racist though, so it’s best avoided. The world would be a better place if we all just chilled and got along with our friends in Hamas, like that nice Mr. Corbyn does.

Culture

While your campus radical forebears in decades gone by railed against censorship and campaigned for civil liberties, you think that video games, film, television and all other forms of art are basically an extension of the patriarchy and corrupt their audiences and turn them all into dangerous misogynists. You don’t like Mary Whitehouse (you’ve never heard of her but someone said she was a conservative so that must make her bad, right?) but you’re perfectly happy to take up the same cause she did and try to ban any song or show, any Tweet or Youtube video which you don’t like.
Obviously you’re morally pure and you can handle these things without being corrupted yourself but what if one of the little people encountered them? Such people can’t be allowed to make up their minds for themselves so you will happily attempt to censor out of existence art and expression you don’t like. How wise of you.

So while you’re swotting up on all your subjects and preparing for university, don’t neglect to go over the opinions you’ll be mandated to have on campus. It’ll make your life a whole lot easier and it’ll make you seem like the coolest cat in town if, in freshers’ drinks, you can drop in a cheeky reference to how unjust the “neoliberal, capitalist, zionist, classist, neo-colonialist, neo-imperialist, metropolitan, hegemonic heteropatriarchy” is (if you learn that phrase properly, that is).

Alternatively, you could think for yourself, say no to the no-platformers, come to your own conclusions based on investigation rather than pressurised groupthink, and become an independent thinker. You could, as Christopher Hitchens said: “take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more truth, happiness, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way”.

But that can be dangerous in a university these days.

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